First Forward Designation Puts Colby Among National Leaders in First-Generation Efforts

Colby College has received a First Forward Designation from the Center for First-generation Student Success for its commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Colby is one of just 80 schools nationwide to be included in the organization’s inaugural group of First Forward Institutions.

Colby received the designation for its work in the Pugh Center, an on-campus center that supports student diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We are so excited to join this cohort of strong and dedicated institutions to work together to learn, grow, collaborate,” said Lexie Mucci, director of the Pugh Center. The designation “furthers not only Colby’s commitment to first-generation student success but allows us to advance best practices and support for first-generation students across the nation,” they said.

An initiative of NASP—National Association of Student Personnel Administrators—and the Suder Foundation, the designation allows selected institutions to receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the center’s research and resources. These programs will allow Colby to strengthen its existing First-Generation-to-College and Low-Income Program for Student Success (FLIPSS).

“For me, our acceptance into this cohort is not an affirmation that we have ‘made it,’ but one that recognizes the foundation that has been laid, the strides we have made this year, and the plans for continued growth needed for our students to truly thrive,” Mucci said.

Bethashley Cajuste ’20, a QuestBridge scholar from Wesley Chapel, Fla., worked for two years with the Pugh Center on developing Colby’s program. Cajuste and another student focused on developing a program that encompasses students’ and their families’ transition to college and includes a direct resource system among different areas of campus, she noted via email from Chile, where she’s studying abroad. These aspects motivated the Pugh Center to apply for First Forward.

“I hope that from this process of being recognized through First Forward our community of first-generation students can further solidify and expand to be a lasting memory of the Colby experience for students to come,” Cajuste said.

Plans to broaden support for first-generation and low-income students include expanding the pre-orientation program from one day to four; developing intentional collaborations with faculty and staff; strengthening peer mentoring; and increasing programming for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

“The center is so pleased to welcome Colby College into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that Colby is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at Colby, visit colby.edu/diversity/pugh-center. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.